Monday, June 5, 2023

Theater: "Murder on the Links" at Laguna Playhouse

Murder on the Links
Written and Directed by Steven Dietz (based on the novel by Agatha Christie)
Cast: Omri Schein (Hercule Poirot), Kim Morgan Dean (Captain Hastings), Jennifer Erdmann (multiple), Brian Mackey (multiple), Jessica Mosher (multiple), Matthew Salazar-Thompson (multiple)

First, let me say that overall this was a fun romp that I really enjoyed. It's running through June 18, so you still have time to check it out. Also, this is a great theater. If you're in the middle section I don't think there's a bad seat in the house (can't comment on the side sections) and there's cheap public parking right across the street from the theater - $4 for the entire day. 
Having said that, there were several things about this production that I found jarring. I went in expecting something in the vein the Poirot series, but in this show the story is played for laughs. Once I understood that I was good, and there were some really funny moments. Also played for laughs was Poirot himself, which also took a while to get used to. Schein played him a bit goofy, which is at odds with the ultimate Poirot (David Suchet) so many fans are used to, but again, I was able to go with it once I realized that's how this production handled the adaptation.

Most jarring was the casting of a female actor to play Captain Hastings. They didn't turn Hastings into a woman, so there wasn't really any reason to do this other than needless virtue signaling. Kim Morgan Dean gave a great performance, but throughout the play her being a woman playing Hastings was a major distraction, and as both a writer and viewer, I know that anything that takes your audience out of the story isn't a good thing. I just don't see why this was necessary other than to make some sort of statement. Imagine a show where a male actor takes a role away from a female actor. I don't think I need to elaborate any more on that. Terrific performance, but distracting from beginning to end.

But like I said, this production of Murder on the Links is overall an enjoyable two hours. Plus, I hadn't been in Orange County since...probably the last time I was at Laguna Playhouse was to see Harvey in 2019. I really need to get out here more often, it was like having a vacation from Los Angeles. I wish it wasn't so far away.

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